The Spinal Column: Why do we love to cling to old belief systems?

So this week follow me through this time line as we crack the case on belief systems.

340BC: Aristotle presents the world with a theory about the universe. Here is the gist of it: The planets are not gods after all, but spheres that revolve on a set path and on a specific schedule around the stationary Earth!

This theory was totally accepted by the masses for 1,800 years!

It was accepted even though this theory put the earth at the center of the universe...not the sun. Even though it is wrong, it was embraced and believed.


I don’t know how Aristotle did it. I can not even get my boys to believe me when I tell them that putting on clean socks daily will help their sneakers smell better!

Aristotle’s theory was so wrong that every 100 hundred yearsit snowed in Rome in July! The calendar was inaccurate. The pope actually had to set the calendar back 6 monthsevery 100years. But, they were set in their ways. Belief in Aristotle’s theory was set in stone.

Fast forward to the 1540sAD. A young man named Nicolaus Copernicus manipulated mathematical equations and developed the Heliocentric Theory that puts the sun at the center of the universe. He explained the rotation of the earth and the axis all with a combination of math of physics. Hooray! Oh wait...yet still it was not accepted. Some, William Shakespeare among them, feeling that it destroyed hierarchal natural order, which would in turn destroy social order and bring about chaos, feared Copernicus’s theory.

This story brings to light that as human beings, we have a strong commitment to our belief systems.

Copernicus backed off for fear of his life.

Forward in time again to the 1600s: Galileo!

Galileo had a telescope! Now we could actually see what Copernicus had tried to explain mathematically. Galileo was a big supporter of Coprnicus’ Heliocentric Theory.

He did not write his findings in Latin, which was used only by the “scholars” and “theologians”, he wrote in Italian so that not only the scholars and theologians could read it, but so could the average person. People listened. He even taught the theory at the University. Eventually the Roman Catholic Church demanded that he stop teaching it. Stop speaking of it! Stop or you will be put to death!

Galileo’s childhood friend, Maffeo Barberini became Pope Urban VIII. Galileo felt emboldened to write about the Heleocenric theory again… now that his friend was in charge. Not a good idea. The Roman Inquisition reacted quickly. They forced him to kneel and recant his beliefs in the Copernican system. Even though he had mathematical and visual proof.

His friend the Pope kept him from burning at the steak, but he was imprisoned for the rest of his life!

It is hard to understand why the Pope thought it was his duty to vigorously defend the Geocentric Model. But on theothr hand, surprisingly, people today have similar behavior in clinging to old, established beliefs.

The reason we do not embrace opposing views is that our mind fears disarray, just as Shakespeare did centuries ago, and automatically avoids new ideas that challenge existing order.

Let’s switch the topic to health, or wellness as it is commonly called today. Since the time of ancient Egyptians we have been seeking health. Alchemist swallowed gold believing it was the “elixir of life”. They consumed fortunes trying to find the correct formula.

Ponce De Leon was backed by his monarchy to form an expedition to find the “Fountain of Youth” (Presumed in Florida...hmmm is that why there are so many retires there?)

These and other quests for wellness failed miserably.

Later in the 1800’s there was a new kind of “doctor.” These folks were stage coach traveling “healers.” They created potions to cure all ailments fathomable. They sold them from town to town and were long gone before the purchaser had time to realize it was a scam! These gentlemen became known as charlatans.

In the early 1900s the few real medicines that existed were administered on a trial basis. If it worked...Hooray! If not, so sorry. The thing wasif they did work doctors didn’t know why. There was no scientific proof.

In 1908, a biochemist by the name of Casmir Funk discovered that there were four ammonia-based substances vital for life. Four things absolutely necessary for a healthy body. He called them Vital Amines. Currently known to us as Vitamins. They could be found in the foods we eat.

This is wonderful wellness discovery of its time.

About the same time studies were being done of Longshoreman and other labor-intensive occupations vs. less active occupations. The studies showed that physical exercise was beneficial to overall health and to the avoidance of chronic disease.

Big stuff right? Not so fast.

Both of these natural health preservation ideas were rejected.

Scientist had been using an Optical microscope for some time at that point. Now scientists could see cells and bacteria and they could see how they actually worked.

Now that we understood how cells and bacteria worked, scientist became heroes as they eliminated major diseases, one after the other. Things like small pox, tuberculosis, polio were now disappearing.

Though studies with real people showed clear positive results that exercise and diet are essential for a healthy body, they were rejected because scientists said it could not be proven scientifically. Their microscope did not show any such results. The belief system was that if you cannot prove it in the current wayyou must be a charlatan! Western society all created a strong belief system that medicines were what we needed to be healthy. You can see because it wiped out polio and all these other diseases.

Meanwhile, there is a development of another microscope called the Electron microscope. Now this microscope can see much smaller objects than the optical microscope. This one can actually show the molecular structure of cells. How they are made. Which means they can see the molecules within the cell. And that, my friends, is where we can see the results of wellness studies-in the molecules of our cells. Proving that exercise and diet do play a huge role in over all health and avoidance of chronic disease.

Guess what happened. You got it. Rejected!!!!

There is a belief system in place and it doesn’t want to change. It would cause chaos.

So we move on to the 20th century. While western medicine is ignoring the importance of diet and exercise in preventing disease and aging, the amount of exercise performed is decreased due to the invention of labor-saving devices in the home and the workplace. The quantity and quality of vitamins in our diet decreases and we consume more and more processed food with less variety. This all contributes to the epidemic in obesity and ill health we have today!

Science has created belief systems in society: the earth is the center of the solar system, the world is flat, medicine brings health, etc.

For more than 100 years the chiropractic profession has suffered through the same systems.

Chiropractic is built on the fact that if a bone puts pressure on a nerve, the nerve will not function right. Depending on where that nerve goes…. that muscle, tissue, organ will not function as it should.

X-rays showed the spinal bones out of position, but this was not enough proof. They said that there was no way a bone could move far enough to do this. Even through with an Xray you could see the space between the bones getting smaller. That space is where the nerves come through. Rejected!!

The idea that the body could heal itself if only this pressure was removed would very much disrupt the current belief system.

It was not until the MRI was developed in the 1980s that we could see tissues and nerves. You can see the bone pressing on the nerve. That was 30 years ago!

Currently, there are still people who reject the fact that Chiropractic is wellness care. There are older doctors and those brought up with a strong belief in the old system. They still reject this form of holistic care.

The good news is that more and more people are joining the wellness movement. They have experienced the positive effects of exercise, healthy eating and other forms of holistic healing.

The early 21st century will be in the history books as the time when finally, the old belief system was broken and a true healthy lifestyle took over.

As always, if you, or anyone you know is suffering from a disease or illness, consider and alternative to the old belief system. Look to chiropractic doctors as well exercise and a clean diet.

Clearly my passion got the best of me today. I have gone on long enough. Thanks for I mean...reading.

Have a great weekend.


Dr. Jim

Oh… and please share your thoughts with me on Facebook or send me an email KCTeam@kimbertonchiropractic. I will be sure to get back to you.

Dr. Jim Schaffer, of Kimberton Chiropractic, Phoenixville, is a weekly contributor to The Phoenix. 484-921-4936